While the local economy has gained ground since the 2008 recession, many of the towns in our district are still struggling and needing jobs. I will work hard to help spur the growth of jobs in all cities and towns in the district. To spur development, some examples of areas I intend to focus on are:
- rehabilitating old mill buildings
- parking garage in Easthampton
- potential redevelopment on the site of the former Mount Tom Power Station
- continued funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in support of arts programs in the district
I am proud to have worked as a delivery person/truck driver for the Opa Opa Brewery Company headquartered in Southampton. I made deliveries to Opa Opa’s commercial accounts all across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was a truly wonderful company to be employed by and the work was very fulfilling. It was different from the work I did in the State Senate or in the legal community. It was physically intensive work and extremely rewarding. It helped me gain a different perspective on life and the diverse amount of jobs people have across this Senate District and across Massachusetts. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to have the position, afforded the experience and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the blue-collar laborers across our nation. Regardless of a person’s background, each individual provides an invaluable service to members of our community, they make an honest living, put a lot of pride into their trades, work long hours, and should feel proud of what they accomplish at the end of the day. When elected to the State Senate I will be a good friend to labor and the trades and as a proud Democrat I will feel very honored advocating on behalf of my brothers and sisters in the labor movement and especially encourage the existence, strengthening of and growth of those that are involved in the Organized Labor Movements and proudly serve in their respective Unions.
As new jobs are created, properly funded public education will help prepare our students to fill those new positions. We must work with our district’s academic leaders to ensure education keeps pace with employer needs. In addition, I vow to address the current charter school funding formula which unfairly punishes local schools. As part of this commitment, I oppose lifting the cap on charter schools.
Fully funding public education also means that the legislature must address the unfunded mandates imposed on local school districts. These mandates place requirements on our schools but do not appropriate budgetary funds to help municipalities pay for their implementation.
I am intensely committed to addressing the opioid addiction crisis. The recent bill passed by the Massachusetts legislature was a step forward in addressing the opiate crisis, particularly at the prescribing level between doctors and patients. We can and must do more. Addiction still exists and continues to affect not only people who are afflicted, but their families and communities each and every day. Addiction won’t vanish with the tighter contols on doctors. Massachusetts, like every state dealing with this crisis, needs more treatment beds to address the continued demand for these drugs.
Massachusetts must continue to expan on programs that promote energy efficiency and the adoption of renewable sources. To be a leader, Massachusetts must raise solar net metering cap to allow home solar adopters to sell more of their excess electricity generation back to the grid at retail rates, essentially rolling back the electric meter further. The adoption of renewable resources can ensure the Commonwealth's energy independence, provide new jobs in this growing sector, and provide clean options to improve our air quality.
Unlike my opponent, I take a strong stance on a number of important social issues. I support women’s rights and women’s right to choose and am proud to have received the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund. I believe in protecting people of all religious beliefs, sexual orientation, all genders, and all races. I am a longtime supporter of marriage equality, a cause that I volunteered for on behalf of Mass Equality during the early debate on the issue in Massachusetts. My continued support of the LGBTQ community includes support for the Transgender Rights bill recently signed into law by Governor Baker.
QUESTION 1. Expanding slot machine gaming.
This question is designed in such a way that the award of the slots license would almost necessarily be awarded to the Suffolk Downs racetrack in Revere. The track is located around the corner from the future Everett location of the Wynn Boston Harbor casino. Slot parlors target a different demographic than an upscale resort casino like the Wynn. Being less expensive and more accessible than flashy high-price resort casinos, they often prey on the most vulnerable members of society, especially the elderly. It is easy for people seeking a big potential payday to get hooked on games that are rigged against long-term positive payouts by design.
In short, I am voting NO on this ballot question not because I am inherently against casinos, but rather because this question unfairly benefits one business interest in the Boston area at the expense of a vulnerable demographic.
QUESTION 2. Charter school expansion.
Charter schools take money from local public schools and give it to private entities. Local school boards lose control and oversight of this money in the process. They also damage the existing public schools by removing funding in a way that requires teachers to try to do more with less. This funding formula is especially damaging to arts and music programs, limiting the options of children attending public schools. As transportation is not guaranteed to charter schools in the way it is to traditional public schools, often it is only the children from more relatively well-off families than their peers that are able to attend such schools as they are able to secure transportation to and from school on a daily basis.
Beyond the funding issues and potential for economic stratification, I believe that traditional public schools offer tremendous value beyond their educational benefit. By having children attend the same schools with their friends and neighbors, public schooling instills a shared sense of community and civic values in a way that the disjointed and separated charter school system simply cannot. It is important that children raised in a functioning democracy have this collective knowledge and understanding of civics and their community in order to be active and effective participants in the process in the future.
I am voting NO on raising the charter school cap.
QUESTION 3. Conditions for farm animals.
While I am cognizant of the potential that this law could add a small amount to the price of certain products, I believe that there is no need to allow animals to needlessly suffer. Ten states already have similar laws that ban confinement of certain animals. It should also be noted that no farms in Massachusetts currently confine pigs and calves and only one farm currently confines hens. Voting YES on this question would ensure that the providers of our meat and dairy products treat the animals humanely. My response to this question is part of my commitment to the humane treatment of animals, which has earned me the endorsement of Massachusetts Voters for Animals.
QUESTION 4. Legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.
Regulating marijuana like alcohol is a smart fiscal move for the Commonwealth. Not only would it ensure that it is packaged and sold in a safe and responsible manner, but the tax revenue would provide much needed revenue to the state budget. Colorado, which has already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, has seen yearly tax revenue from sales of over $100 million. I propose that here in Massachusetts we could use this new revenue to fund drug treatment centers in an effort to combat our ongoing opioid addiction crisis. The prohibition on marijuana has not stopped people from acquiring it. Instead, the illegal status has funded a black market where money is funneled to drug cartels rather than Massachusetts’ businesses and government budgets.
Regulation would also allow a mechanism to ensure the safety of the products and their usage. Proper labeling and packaging along with identification checks could help to curb underage use and to promote responsible use by adults.
A YES vote on this question would provide a much needed economic benefit to Massachusetts and allow adults to make a responsible choice regarding their own personal use of marijuana.